Now that the New Year is wholeheartedly upon us it seems like the perfect time to carry on with the capsule wardrobing series. I know I’ve been doing some New Year’s decluttering and tidying up of my own closet, and I suspect I’m not alone. Here at stage 2 (stage 1 is here in case you want to re-read it) I’m going to write about putting your capsule wardrobe together.
As I said back at Stage 1, the essence of the capsule wardrobe is versatility, rather than minimalism. You can have a wardrobe with lots of different things in it and still legitimately call it a capsule. The point is that whatever you put in there is wearable, useful and wanted. So regardless of the amount of clothing you have in your wardrobe, the following principles should be remembered as you think about putting it together:
Make sure you can see things
Structure your wardrobe in such a way that everything in it is both visible and accessible: stuffing clothes into drawers is a brilliant way to forget all about them. And really, who has the time to go burying through the wilderness for a black roll-neck on a frosty Winter’s morning? Your wardrobe should work for YOU, not the other way round. But it can only do that if you put it together in a logical way. And how you do that depends on your own preferences, and also the wardrobe you have.
I have very limited space to hang things in my wardrobe, so I reserve that for dresses, skirts, trousers and a few tops I don’t want to crease. The rest of my clothes are folded and laid on shelves organised by style (basic tops, hoodies, cardigans etc) so I know exactly where to look for things. Coats and jackets I hang on hooks by the door, shoes and accessories I display. A wire coat hanger makes a good scarf house if you hang it somewhere prominent, and draping necklaces over the corner of mirrors always allows you to find one at a glance. If that sounds like cluttersville to you, think about storage options. Clear boxes or chintzy wicker baskets will hold lots of items, and pretty jam jars are one of the most useful storage solutions around: imagine a row of those cute Bonne Maman ones filled with lovely bits of jewellery.
Create an even spread
Your capsule wardrobe should serve all of your needs. If you have a surplus of strapless dresses but a dearth of long-sleeved tops to layer underneath them in Winter, then a good percentage of your wardrobe is unwearable when it’s cold. Impractical, and probably pretty frustrating as well (nothing brightens up a dull January day like a summer floral!). Similarly, if you are bereft of snow-repelling footwear, the next bout of white stuff will leave you feeling miserable and with wet feet, as opposed to gleeful, childish and desperate to make a snowman.
If you made a list at Stage 1 of the things you think your wardrobe is lacking, now’s the time to pick those items up. I’ll write a little about shopping later at Stage 3, but some sage advice right now is to make a list, stick to it and leave the high street once you’re done. You’re on a capsule wardrobing mission girl, not a jolly jaunt around town. Stick to the plan and don’t open your purse unless it’s for something on your list.
Give it some love
That means hand washing and dry cleaning where necessary (note: not just bunging stuff in the machine in the hope that it’ll all be fine), paying attention to water temperatures on labels and always using a fabric softener. It also means ironing, folding and putting away – three things I fail at with surprising regularity.
I HATE ironing. No other household chore feels like such a spectacular waste of time. So I’ve got two options: buy and wear only clothes that don’t need to be ironed, or man up and get on with it. And seeing as I have neither the pennies nor the inclination to replace my entire wardrobe with iron-free garments (some day!), it’s the latter approach that I take. The best tip I can offer to any fellow iron haters is to get some of your favourite music on, find your way to ‘the zone’ and stubbornly focus on the image of a wardrobe full of ready-to-wear, crisply ironed clothes. It works people, really it does.
Having to change your outfit plan because the burst seam on your ‘feel fantastic’ shirt mysteriously hasn’t been repaired by sparkling little elves in the middle of the night is annoying. As is having to wear your second-choice shoes because you forgot to polish up your favourites. Repairs such as these really are necessary if you want your wardrobe to function at its peak. The best strategy I’ve found for overcoming the tedium of sewing on buttons and picking up dropped hems is to do them in front of the telly with a glass of wine by your side (just one – being drunk when there are pins and needles involved isn’t something I’d heartily recommend).
Finally, try to get into the habit of monitoring your wardrobe. Having one superbly energetic bout of organising at the beginning of the year is great, but if you don’t keep it up your wardrobe will soon revert to its old disorderly ways. Having a weekly or fortnightly sprucing up session will allow you to stay in control. It will also alert you to those things you’re simply not wearing (you know, the ones to whom you gave a second chance at stage 1?). Maybe they don’t fit anymore. If so, toss them. Life’s too short to be bullied by a pair of jeans. Or maybe they do fit but just look a little tired. If that’s the case, consider customising them by dyeing, swapping the buttons or adding a trim. As I said before, there’s a whole world of possibilities out there when it comes to alterations. Get your thinking cap on and do something creative.
So there you have it: stage 2 done and dusted, and a gleaming, fully functional capsule wardrobe the result. Join me later on for Stage 3: A word on shopping.
Image above from Flickr – funkypancake.